dragonvale, dragon farming, casual gaming

Time capsules in mobile gaming

Aside from playing video games on my 3DS’s and my PS Vita, I have played games on my iPad ever since I bought it in 2011. A different kind of game than the ones I play on my dedicated handheld game devices, but games nonetheless. I have a preference on my iPad for city builders, management and collector games. Most look so gorgeous on the tablet screen, and are easy to pick up over a cup of coffee. DragonVale is such a game that I have been playing since day one when it was released in 2011.

I was lucky, back then, to be the first person to make a thread about the game in an iPad Forum. I asked for friends through the GameCenter (used by Apple until a year ago to connect players). As luck would have it, the game was a big hit, and I got more friends then I could handle. All of them sent me gems too, since then I had a fat piggybank of gems. Gems are the in-game bottleneck currency, every city builders has one or two of such in game currencies that make gaming life easier and can be bought for real money.

The games’ tasks are simple. You build a habitat, breed an egg by putting two dragons in the love den, let it hatch, and then place the newborn dragon in your habitat, where it generates gold. Use gold to buy more habitats. Grow crops to feed your dragons, leveling them up so they generate more money so you can buy more habitats. Gaining experience point levels unlocks new buildings, decorations, and dragon types. Pretty much your average fare for such games. 

There are a lot of these kind of games out there, but the combination of cute dragons, 250+ of them to collect and beautiful visuals is very potent for me. The addictive part is in breeding just the right dragon, never sure what combination will work. I’ve played it over the years in bouts, playing it for some time and then leaving it again.

This week my daughter and her boyfriend were immersed in playing a mobile game that I recognised: DragonVale! This time a bit spruced up, a new addition to the name. It’s called DragonVale World now, but I don’t think much of the mechanics have changed.

I was prompted to open up my own game to see what was left of it. What a nice surprise to see it patiently waiting for me, eggs ready to hatch, new sorts of habitats to add and new kinds of dragons.  Because of backups in iCloud the game has followed me around from device to device, waiting till I find the time to check in once again. And because the game has been around for some time, new challenges, dragons and a bit of new gameplay have been added by now.

It occurred to me that mobile games can be real time capsules. Six years of my life can be pinpointed in the game, like growth-rings in the trunk of a tree. I still remember the excitement of getting a very rare breed of Dragons, like the Rainbow Dragon and the Olympians. And I still remember sharing the excitement with my gaming friend, as all good games are even better when shared!

Do you have such games that have been running for years now?


  1. That’s awesome! I have several iPad/ iPhone games that I’ve been playing on and off for years now. I used to really love a game called Zombie Farm (which got updated to Zombie Farm 2). It was a cute little FarmVille/ Harvest Moon type game with the added twist that you could “grow” zombies haha! Makes me want to go back and see if my little farm is still around!

    1. That’s exactly the kind of feeling I mean. You know it’s right there, waiting for you to check back in when you want to!
      Zombie Farm, haha, yeah I know of it. nice little twist that!

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